Great St. Martin Church

Cologne, Germany

The Great Saint Martin Church (Groß Sankt Martin) foundations (circa 960 AD) rest on remnants of a Roman chapel, built on what was then an island in the Rhine. The church was later transformed into a Benedictine monastery.

In 1150, a fire destroyed much of Cologne and it is supposed that the entire church was destroyed. The Archbishop of Cologne Philipp I. von Heinsberg sanctified the new building in 1172, and the first phase of construction, the tri-apsidal structure was built, with three round apses meeting in the shape of a cross. This is the only element of the church still present today. The eastern end of the nave was completed before a further fire in 1185, as well as aisles on the Southside. At the northern apse, two Benedictine chapels were later added, built over the ruins of the previous abbey buildings.

In the middle of the 13th century, new walls for the three apses were completed, with larger windows. These provided a sought-after lightness to the interior. The nave was also made five meters longer, and the atrium in the west was built.

After the completion of the church in the 13th century, few modifications to the form of the church were undertaken. Most significant during this period were the various renovations needed for the four surrounding towers.

Reforms under abbots Jakob von Wachendorp (1439–1454) and Adam Meyer (1454–1499) provided a stronger financial footing for the Benedictine abbey. From this the inner decoration of the church was embellished, including figures from the altar, installed in 1509, that are still present today.

In 1707, the decaying interior walls were repaired and refurbished. Heinrich Obladen, then the abbot of Great Saint Martin, also purchased a new, larger organ for the church. New adornments for the Church took on a Baroque style, including golden bands for the pillars, dome and walls.

 The church was badly damaged in World War II; restoration work was completed in 1985.

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Address

Fischmarkt 5, Cologne, Germany
See all sites in Cologne

Details

Founded: c. 1172
Category: Religious sites in Germany
Historical period: Hohenstaufen Dynasty (Germany)

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Mat Bienczyk (4 months ago)
Fantastic church very close to the riverfront area; not as detailed architecture as the Cologne cathedral, but still has it's own uniqueness.
Gokul S (5 months ago)
Beautiful, peaceful church. truly underrated spot in Koeln!
Yannick Dongo (7 months ago)
Obviously not the Cologne Cathedral but has its own allure. I also paid 1 Euro to go down to the excavation below
Mantvydas Ū. (11 months ago)
Beautiful church and the architecture! But best would be I think to visit - Dom Cathedral which is quite close by :)
Michael Stemmeler (11 months ago)
Great St. Martin is one of the beautifully restored romanesque churches in the city after it was almost completely destroyed during WW II. Part of the tower was originally integrated into the old city wall fortifications. The inside is kept very simple with only a few classical religious works of art on display. Currently, a newer monastic community resides at the church, and its members hold their daily prayers of the hours in the church.
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